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Red Wine Vinegar 


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Red Wine Vinegar 

Written By: Alastair Bland 

-/ TOOLS: 

Funnel (1) 

or vessel 

Rubber bands (1) 
Wine bottles (1) 


Red wine (16oz) 

Don't let last night's leftover quarter- 
bottle go to waste! 

Caps (1) 

Red vinegar mother (8oz) 
purchased from a homebrewing shop 

Cheesecloth (1) 

Iodine (1) 

Used for sterilization. Also found at a 
homebrewing shop. 

Water (8oz) 


Perhaps nothing walks so fine a line through the world of culinary appreciation as vinegar. 
The bane of the winery, it's also the prince of the kitchen, and few salads would dare show 
their faces without it. In the making of vinegar, science and art merge, and like its alter ego, 
wine, vinegar is a subject for the scrutiny of gourmands. Good vinegar, after all, is not just 
spoiled vino — it's an art form that can take years to refine. 

As you explore vinegar making, you may discover a fulfilling aspect of this hobby: it 
becomes a self-sustaining, living process, almost like gardening. A portion of vinegar 
"mother" can be left in the production vessel after each harvest, and if you continually add 
more wine to this thriving liquid, the process can go on indefinitely, providing you with 

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Red Wine Vinegar 

homemade vinegar for years to come. All your mother asks for is a little wine. 

We'll start with the simple science. By deliberately infecting your wine — or beer or cider, 
for that matter — with Acetobacter, a genus of bacteria that also goes by the name "vinegar 
mother," you touch off a transformation. These bacteria eat the alcohol and churn out acetic 
acid, which supplies the tanginess common to all vinegars. 

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Red Wine Vinegar 

Step 1 — Acquire a vinegar mother. 

• Essentially, a vinegar mother is a portion of unpasteurized, living vinegar. You can acquire 
it in 2 ways. The easiest is to purchase an 8oz jar from your local homebrewing shop, for 
about $10. You can also take the more artisanal approach and contact another home 
vinegar-maker to request a small half-pint sample of his or her active vinegar. 

• Before you begin your vinegar, ask around or search the web for information on 
sulfites in wine. Sulfites such as sulfur dioxide are added by winemakers to prevent 
deterioration. Wines that contain too much sulfur dioxide may not turn to vinegar, killing 
the mother instead. Seek out organic wines, which contain no added sulfites. 


Step 2 — Sanitize your equipment. 

• Sanitize all equipment immediately before you use it. Don't use soap or fouled sponges 
Instead, use a water-iodine solution, then rinse with boiling water. 

• If you aim to make gallons of vinegar, use a large food-grade bucket or a ceramic 
amphora with a spigot. Add wine and water into the vinegar vessel at regular 
intervals, about once a month. Always follow the mother- water-wine ratio of 1 :1 :2. 
Overbooze your mother and she could die. 

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Red Wine Vinegar 

Step 3 — Combine your ingredients. 

• Combine your mother, tap water, and a quality wine in your jar using a 1 :1 :2 ratio. 

Step 4 — Store your concoction. 

• Cover the jar with a piece of boiled, 
sanitized cheesecloth, secure it 
with a rubber band, and store in a 
dark place for 6 weeks. 
Acetobacter needs oxygen, so 
allocate at least the top Va of the jar 
to airspace in order to enhance air- 
vinegar contact. Vinegar also likes 
warmth, so aim for 75° F. 

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Red Wine Vinegar 

Step 5 — Taste it at week 6. 

• Uncover the container after 6 
weeks. Note that a leathery cap 
may have formed in the jar. It might 
resemble a liver, but it's harmless. 
Let it lie. For sampling, pour the 
vinegar from the vessel into a 
spoon. Taste carefully. You should 
detect a faint to strong pungency. It 
may need more time, or it may be 
ready for the olive oil and mustard. 
The choice depends on your 

Step 6 — Consider your options. 

• When you decide it's ready, you'll have 2 options. You may just want to invest more wine 
and water into the vessel (remember the 1 :1 :2 ratio) to jump-start a bigger batch, or you 
may wish to harvest the ready vinegar. If you harvest, be sure to leave 8oz of mother in 
the jar for making more vinegar at a later date. You can store the mother, jarred and 
sealed, in the fridge; deprived of oxygen, she will lie dormant. 

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Red Wine Vinegar 

Step 7 — Bottle your vinegar. 

• You may wish to pasteurize your vinegar by heating it at 150°F for 30 minutes in a clean 
pot. This optional measure destroys the Acetobacter and halts the alcohol-to-acid 
conversion process. Let the vinegar cool to room temperature. Then, being careful not to 
disturb any sediment at the bottom, pour it through sterilized cheesecloth into a jar or 
bottle. (This initial recipe makes just enough to fill a wine bottle, but successive batches 
will grow in size.) 

• If you don't pasteurize the vinegar, be sure to keep it in an airtight container, filled all the 
way to the top, as this vinegar is alive and holds the potential to embark on further 
transformation if provided oxygen. Airtight storage of unpasteurized vinegar may call for 
screw caps. If you prefer corks, T-corks are the easiest to insert and do not require a 
corking press. 

Step 8 — Flavor your vinegar. 

• You may wish to flavor a bottle of vinegar with herbs such as dill, oregano, rosemary, 
basil, or garlic. This is easy. Place clean, fresh sprigs or cloves or crumbled dried leaves 
into the bottle, then fill with vinegar. Cork the bottle, age it for 30 days, then taste for 
strength and dilute with unflavored vinegar if necessary. Recork, store in the cupboard, 
and use sparingly. 

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Red Wine Vinegar 

This project first appeared in CRAFT Volume 09 . 
Related posts on the Craft blog: 
Best of Craft video: Red Wine Vinegar 
In the Kitchen with Jarod: Make a Mother of Vinegar 0/0... 
Grilled Balsamic Basil Flank Steak 0/0... 

This document was last generated on 2013-01-29 06:05:08 AM. 

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